Island-hopping scheme ready for takeoff soon
The 7+7 sandbox island extension scheme looks set to launch this month, with registration for certificates of entry (COEs) for inoculated tourists due to be ready on Aug 15.
The initiative is an attempt to boost the international tourist market taking part in the Phuket sandbox and Samui Plus schemes.
Charintip Tiyaphorn, president of the Tourism Council of Krabi, said the first group of international travellers in the 7+7 scheme who completed seven-day trips in Phuket will travel via boat to Krabi from Aug 22.
The "Krabi Even More Amazing" reopening programme comprises Koh Phi Phi, Railay Bay and Koh Ngai, all of which reported few to zero cases of Covid-19, while all local residents have been fully vaccinated.
In addition to Krabi, other destinations under the 7+7 island-hopping scheme include Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in Surat Thani, and Khao Lak, Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai in Phangnga.
The scheme was previously scheduled to launch on Aug 1, but it was postponed due to a surge in local cases on Phuket and Koh Samui.
A subcommittee of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) yesterday gave the nod to the 7+7 reopening plan, but it still requires final approval from the CCSA at its upcoming meeting on Aug 11.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is working with tourism operators in Phuket to help implement the SHA Plus Booking Authentication System (SHABA) for operators in Krabi to book guests, said Ms Charintip.
SHABA is the back-end system for hotels under the Safety and Health Administration Plus to manage bookings and payments for tourists.
She said tourists who want to join the 7+7 island-hopping scheme have to apply for the new type of COE, which will be launched from Aug 15, as they have to book hotels in advance.
Any applications prior to that date have to comply with the same 14-day minimum stays in the Phuket sandbox.
Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said the island was preparing to be part of the 7+7 extension scheme on the same date as Krabi and Phangnga.